Navy Yard shooter pegged as nonviolent

Family and friends describe suspect as devout Buddhist

By Phil Archer - Reporter

FORT WORTH - The man federal official say murdered 12 people in a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard Monday was a Navy veteran and devout Buddhist, according to Fort Worth friends.

The alleged gunman, Aaron Alexis, a Brooklyn native, was killed after repeatedly exchanging gunfire with officers, police said. There was little information on a motive, but hours after the shootings,an early profile began to emerge.

According to NBC News sources, Alexis had been treated multiple times for psychological issues, including sleep deprivation, anger and paranoia. Most recently, they said he had been treated at a VA Hospital in New England. 

Alexis was raised in New York and joined the Navy in 2007. He was serving at the Ft. Worth Naval Air Station in 2011 when government sources say he was discharged for misconduct.

For three years, he shared a house with Nutpisit Suthamtewakul, owner of the Happy Bowl Restaurant in Fort Worth where Alexis worked as a delivery driver.

"I don't believe he would do that," Suthamtewakul said. "When I see the picture of him I am like,'Oh my God. That is Aaron. What happened?"'

Suthamtewakul said Alexis had a concealed weapon permit, and always carried a gun, but had converted to Buddhism, a religion which teaches non-violence.

"I mean, that one thing is something against religion. He liked to go to temple and meditation," Suthamtewakul said.

In New York, Alexis 'father said his son had anger management issues and suffered from posttraumatic shock syndrome related to his experiences as a rescue worker after the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

In September 2010, Alexis was arrested by police for discharging a firearm inside his Fort Worth apartment. The bullet went through the floor of his upstairs neighbor's apartment. Alexis was never charged. The Tarrant County District Attorney's office issued a statement Monday saying in part:

"It was determined that Alexis was cleaning a gun in his apartment when it accidentally went off. A bullet entered an apartment upstairs. No one was injured."

But the neighbor told police Alexis had repeatedly complained of noise coming from her apartment. She told officers she was "terrified" of him.

Six years earlier, Alexis was arrested in Seattle after shooting the tires of a car during a parking dispute. He told Seattle police an hour later, he did not remember doing it due to an "anger-fueled black-out.'

In the Navy, Alexis worked as a computer technician, rising to the rank of Petty Officer Third Class. After his discharge, he remained in the Navy Reserve. According to friends, Alexis left Fort Worth four months ago to work for a civilian contractor employed by Hewlett Packard to rebuild computer systems at Naval bases around the country.

Federal investigators say Alexis had undergone a background check and was issued an identification card that allowed him to enter the Washington Navy Yard.

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